Direct From Lausanne! Sports Officials Stress the Positive Side of the IOC Ban on Russian Flag and Anthem

The Russian national team was barred from the Winter Olympics in South Korea. However, our athletes will be able to take part in the Games. Without a flag, an anthem but in the sports uniform with a sign "Olympic Athlete from Russia".

This decision was made by the IOC. The suspension can be lifted only by the end of the Winter Games. And if it happens, Russian athletes will have a chance to march under the Russian flag at the closing ceremony.

Our correspondent Aleksandr Abramov-on how such a contradictory decision was made. He's on the air.


- Good evening, Aleksandr. Please, share the details of how did the IOC come to this conclusion? How did the representatives of our country comment this situation?

- Good evening, Maria. Obviously, this was a hard decision. And jumping ahead a bit, I'd like to say that Alexander Zhukov, the President of the Russian Olympic Committee in his press-conference in one of the hotels in Lausanne on the results of Thomas Bach's statement said that judging by indirect attributes and by the fact that proceedings of the commission lasted two and a half hours after the presentation of the Russian delegation at IOC EB today, Zhukov assumed that contrary to common belief, the final decision was made today, it was not made in advance and they just needed to announce it, as we've discussed it earlier that.

Well, first things first. Thomas Bach was a little late for the press-conference to announce a verdict concerning the Russian national team at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. It was not Thomas Bach but Mr. Schmid, former President of Switzerland, who started the press-conference. He is the author of one of the reports. He expressed gratitude to everyone, who was involved in this work that lasted 18 months.

He said very unpleasant things particularly, that they have evidence of unprecedented doping probes manipulation in recent years. He also mentioned that it was very important not to infringe the rights of athletes who were not involved in the doping scandal. Athletes who were found "clean".

Mr. Schmid spoke German and then gave the floor to Thomas Bach, the President of the IOC. He spoke English and announced the final decision. And before we listen to him, I can say that Thomas Bach repeated several times that Russia's penalty from the IOC is proportional to what has been done. As a former athlete, Bach also admitted, that he regrets about the machinations that the IOC finally managed to prove.

Let's listen to what Thomas Bach said. Here's the most important part of the IOC President's speech.

Thomas Bach, President of the IOC: "The Russian Olympic Committee is suspended with immediate effect. Individual clean Russian athletes will be able to participate under strict conditions at the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018. These invited athletes will participate under the name Olympic Athlete from Russia. They will compete with a uniform bearing this title and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony. Officials from the Russian Ministry of Sport will not be accredited for the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018. Minister of Sport, Mr. Vitaly Mutko, and his then Deputy Minister, Mr. Yuri Nagornykh are excluded, from any participation in all future Olympic Games".

I'd like to underline one of the unusual decisions announced by Thomas Bach. At the Olympics in Pyeongchang that starts in 65 days we'll have absolutely unprecedented medal ceremonies for athletes, who suffered during the Olympics in Sochi. The Olympic movement has never seen it before, and they may never see it again. It will be unusual to see how the medalists of the Sochi Olympics will be awarded at the Winter Olympics 2018.

As for the press-conference of the Russian delegation in one of the hotels in Lausanne. Alexander Zhukov, Vitali Smirnov, and Evgenia Medvedeva found the strength to comment on the final decision. We'll discuss some important moments now. Alexander Zhukov said that the final decision about participating under a neutral flag would be made at the Olympic assembly. Zhukov didn't give the date. We'll wait for it.

The most important thing is that Russian athletes have the opportunity to go to South Korea. I wouldn't say that they will participate under a neutral flag, it's important that they will be titled Olympic Athletes from Russia.

And now let's listen to what Alexander Zhukov said.

Alexander Zhukov, President of the ROC: "In terms of positive moments, the IOC let all clean Russian athletes participate in the Olympics in both individual and team sports. This is the first moment. Secondly, this team will be called Olympic Athletes from Russia".

Alexander Zhukov also mentioned that the Russian Olympic Committee has to pay $15 million to cover expenses of IOC for holding the various investigations. This money will be invested in strengthening the global anti-doping system.

Vitali Smirnov was calm and judicious as always at the press-conference. He said that they were given the floor, and they were not interrupted. Members of IOC Executive Board listened to the Russian delegation carefully.

Now let's listen to the commentary of Vitali Smirnov, Honorary President of the ROC.

Vitali Smirnov, Honorary President of the ROC: "We all said what we found necessary to say. Then we waited for a long time, for about two and a half hours. It took the IOC EB so much to discuss the issue. After this, the President personally invited the three of us. And we were made aware of the IOC EB decision. Obviously, it was difficult to make such a decision."

Of course, Evgenia Medvedeva also gave a speech. In English, she sent an important message to the IOC EB members She refused to reveal what exactly she said at the press-conference. But it's important that it wasn't in vain. She came here and spoke for all the clean athletes. For the athletes who are supposed to win medals in the Olympics, let's say so. Knock on wood.

Let's listen to Evgenia Medvedeva.

Evgenia Medvedeva, two-time World champion in figure skating: "The main point was that my opponents will have a chance to perform twice: both in individual and team competitions. And if team Russia won't be able to participate in team competition each athlete will have only one chance to perform and to win only one medal. Even in theory. I find it unfair. And I expressed my point of view".

Well, this historic decision of IOC EB is made. Now we know what status will the Russian athletes have in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. It starts in February 2018.

And another interesting detail. At the press-conference, Thomas Bach expressed the hope that after the Olympics are over, and all the sanctions are lifted, they won't return to this issue anymore. Probably, both sides of this conflict will remember the events of the recent years as a nightmare.

So, let's wait for the Olympics. We'll support the Russian National Team that will have the name Olympic Athletes from Russia. I can't imagine how our hockey team will hit the ice without a golden emblem on their chest. We'll have to get used to it. I think we'll do this.


- Right, Aleksandr, we'll see. Thank you.

It was our special correspondent in Lausanne, Aleksandr Abramov. He told us how the IOC made the final decision about our Olympic team. Aleksandr has mentioned that it can't participate under the national flag only under the Olympic flag, and labeled Olympic Athlete from Russia.